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Stallion stroll past UST to move on top of Group C

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Stallion FC snatched group leadership from JP Voltes by defeating University of Santo Tomas, 5-0, in Group C action of the UFL Cup 2015 group stage held Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The first 14 minutes of play between the two teams produced little openings on the attack, but it was Stallion that held the majority of possession and looked more threatening on the attacking third. At the 15th minute, Simone Rota almost gave Stallion the lead had he drifted his header in. Instead, the defender’s attempt sailed wide, much to the relief of the Tomasinos. A couple of minutes later, Rota was in the thick of things anew. He aimed to locate Ameachi Emmanuel Mbata inside the box but UST goalkeeper Jose Zaldy Abraham got in between the pass to prevent his team from falling behind.

Seizing momentum, Stallion pressed forward in order to break the tie. With 22 minutes gone by, Matthew Nierras linked up with Ruben Doctora Jr inside the box. Doctora then saw Mbata whose shot was gathered by Abraham. A minute later, Stallion’s persistence finally paid off. Samuel Bonney’s long ball found its way to Doctora. Determined by the linesman to be well onside, Doctora guided the ball well with his first touch before clinically finishing against the helpless Abraham. Shortly after going down by a goal, UST had three chances to level the score but none of those truly bothered Stallion custodian Ref Cuaresma. Busmion brothers Darwin and Dionisio were off target while teammate Renz Gumban was not swift enough to test Cuaresma. At the 37th minute, the leading team found the net once again to cushion their lead before the break. On-loan striker Ian Araneta’s shot was palmed away by Abraham but the loose ball went to Mbata who made no mistake from close range. Araneta, Doctora and Mbata even attempted to put more goals into the scoresheet but UST’s defense coped well with the attacking trio, keeping the score at 2-0 at halftime.

A 2-0 lead after 45 minutes was considered sub-par for a team who was expected to follow the path of their fellow Division I squads in trouncing far inferior opposition. Entering the second half, Stallion only looked to add to their lead but the resolute defending employed by UST made it difficult for Ernie Nierras’ men to produce up front. Picking up from where they left off, Doctora and Mbata led Stallion’s pursuit for more goals. Jose Lozano, Christian Nana, and Milan Arends also joined the hunt but none of them were able to increase Stallion’s goal haul in the fist 25 minutes of the second period. It is safe to say that Stallion dominated the match but UST created opportunities whenever they made it into the final third. However, the inexperienced bunch in UST’s signature black and gold were easily rattled when pressure was applied on them.

For 73 minutes, it looked like UST will finish the match down by just two. They were giving Stallion a difficult time in breaking them down but the Division I side bursted with three late goals to mask their inefficiency that was evident for most of the match. The team in green were rewarded with a third goal that came from the spot at the 74th minute. Darryl Regala was adjudged to have fouled Doctora just inside the box, which led to a Simone Rota conversion. Eight minutes later, Levi Fernandez-Lynch sent his cross to Rota whose header was blocked by Abraham. Unfortunately for the busy goalkeeper, Jojo Borromeo was at the right place at the right time for Stallion to make it 4-0. In added time, another substitute netted for Stallion. Rota’s sublime cross from the right flank was headed in by Elmar Boblo to close the match in style.

Despite winning and going on top of Group C, Nierras felt that his team played complacently versus non-league UST. “We always do this every time we play with the team that we can dominate. We always play down to their skill level. We shouldn’t be doing that,” he boldly said. “I like it better when we play the top teams because everybody’s mind is focused on doing what we do in practice. Today, I was so upset because some are doings that we didn’t even train for,” the Stallion Manager added. Nonetheless, Nierras was pleased with the way his substitutes showed up in the match, especially Borromeo. On the other side of the fence, UST’s coach Marjo Allado was proud with the way his wards battled a top UFL squad. “Stallion have a lot of good players. Regarding this game today, I think we played better. The only way that Stallion beat us is with the experience and the strength. It’s a good experience for UST,” he positively concluded.

After losing twice, UST remain hopeful of acquiring points alongside experience when they clash with Mendiola FC 1991 on Tuesday at 6:15 PM. Meanwhile, Stallion can secure a quarterfinal spot should they get a result against second-placed JP Voltes FC next Sunday, May 24.

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